August 27, 2015
Here we are back again to Tokyo after a very long summer break. The kids and I have been away for 8 weeks! Far too long we all say, because we all wanted to go home again after week 5. For Mark I am not sure whether he had his vacation during the two weeks with us in France or rather during the time he was alone at home in Tokyo…..
A year ago today we left Basel. I cannot say that it feels like yesterday as so many things happened since then. Coming back here certainly felt like coming home. The kids were happy to be in their own rooms and beds again and of course to be back with their daddy. They were also eager to start school and to finally see all their friends. While Leonard and Lilo would prefer to go back to Basel, Linus keeps on telling me that he would like to stay in Tokyo forever. But of course that would be depending on where I go, because he will never leave me. He plans to spend his life with me (preferably on my lap).
After a very slow start with half days for Kindergarten, today is the first full day for all three of them and I finally feel like getting my life back. My training job starts next week and I still have a lot of work to do for my own company. I can’t wait.
Being back here we have to get used to all the people who still ride their bikes on the pavements (even though the rules have been changed before summer) but do not use their bells. I have to admit that I do not use mine as I feel this must be considered very rude – have to ask someone about this. And we have to get used again to all the people who do not walk straight or at a regular pace because they are looking at the screens of their smart phones. This may sound petty-minded, but a mass of people who move without any consciousness about their surroundings can be quite annoying.
Going back to Europe over summer also made me more aware of the things I missed and the ones I did not miss at all. I will keep the selection very small.
What I did not miss at all here in Tokyo:
- People talking on the cell phone wherever they are. No matter if they are in a restaurant, on a train or any other public transport – Europeans just keep talking on their phones. My favourite: “yes, hello, I am on a train, can hardly hear you, say that again, what?, yes, I will be there, what?, say that again, ….”
- People smoking wherever they go and leave their cigarette butts everywhere. Since smoking in Tokyo is only allowed in designated smoking areas, you never have to walk behind a smoker or wait at a bus stop with smokers. Even though I do smoke from time to time and I do find the designated smoking areas very restrictive and segregating, it’s quite pleasant to be speared from cigarette smoke and not to have cigarette butts everywhere (a sense of Japanese cleanliness is kicking in here…).
- Non-air-conditioned public transport. After living in Basel and Tokyo where public transport is always (in Basel mostly) air-conditioned (and has free wifi), I did not even consider that this might not be the norm. Getting on the RER in Paris, I told the children that the air-con in this train must be broken. Until we changed trains….
What I did miss here in Tokyo:
- Goat cheese. I had goat cheese or sheep cheese every single day during our stay in Europe. I thought I would overeat on it so I would not miss it once back in Tokyo. I survived the first week without. I know that if I get a real craving, I can still invest a fortune and of course get it in the shop down the road.
- Pools where kids can jump into the water and just have fun. We had such a good time at the local pool in the Black Forest where the kids jumped incessantly into the water, dived, got themselves thrown into the water, went down the slides in all possible positions, played wild, screamed and shouted. If somebody knows of such a place close to Tokyo, please let me know.
I am yet undecided on the clothing style. Especially the German and Swiss one where everybody always walks around in their outdoor gear (especially shoes and jackets) even if they go for a shopping afternoon in the city. I am not a big fan of it at all. But during my shopping trip to Freiburg in southern Germany, I all of a sudden asked myself why the scenery around me felt so (positively) different. And then I looked around and saw all the colours: green, turquoise, pink, yellow, orange etc of the Germans’ all-weather-jackets! Colours you hardly ever see in Tokyo where people are dressed in black, white, grey, beige, dark blue, brown and other muted colours. Those jackets might not be very stylish, but they did brighten up my day!